Wednesday, May 25, 2011

CBR:Quickies Ambush Bug comics

Somehow, you've manage to go through Ambush Bug's first and second miniseries.
And for some reason, you didn't go insane and you're even asking for more of it?

Well, don't say I didn't warn you.
There you have it....
B-b-b-BUG-Time! Ambush Bug's amazing debut, in all it's non-canon beauty!

First of all...who is the Ambush Bug?

The Bug's true origins aren't certain... he's after all a funny humorous character, and thus, nothing's set in stone for the fanboys. Instead, the Bug likes to mock every aspect of "continuity" the nerds require to make sense out of comics. Any occasion he has to plays the reader, he takes.
But one origin seems to stick more so than the others...

It seems a long time ago, someone named Brum-El, from the planet Schwab, discovered his own planet was doomed...and so he made a spaceship to save what was the most important in his life...nooo! Not his ugly wife or annoying brat, but all of his favorite clothes.
Therefore, this man sent his clothes into outter space, hoping his lovely shirts and colorful set of pants would find a new home in another galaxy...only to find out his planet wasn't going to explode in the end.
Anyway, the clothes travelled across the stars, only to finally crash on our dear planet Earth, in the middle of the roof of the building where lived our hero, Irwin Schwab. Amongst the wardrobe, only a green pajama survived an encounter with a cosmic radioactive spider upon arrival in our solar system.
And after some adjustments, thus was born the Ambush Bug!

At least, that's what how he keeps saying it happened.

(by the by, another pieces of clothing survived, and it was an argyle sock which would later become the Bug's greatest nemesis, Argh!Yle!...but that is another story, for another time...)

And that is how the Ambush Bug should be a very random guy who got powers for some reason and now spends is time either annoying Superman or deconstructing comics.

Originally created by Keith Giffen as a new (silly) foe for Superman, over the 80s, the Bug quickly outgrew his original intentions and was allowed to become his own character, even leaving some aspects of his early creation.
But this wasn't much a problem, since he was created around DC Comics' big "reboot", the so-called Crisis on Infinite Earths (which I already talked about plenty in my Batman: Year One review, why don't you check that out as well ;))
That is the reason why I decided to separate in the Quickies below both his comics released before the Crisis and after the Crisis. Just in case it might be useful to some of you guys and gals.

The classic Bug was a villain originally. Named after a type of insect, who decided to start wearing green jumpsuits and make evil deeds just because he had nothing better to do. He used to teleport thanks to robotic bugs he used, stored in his antennas. After annoying Superman for a while, he decided to become a force of good instead and started playing Super Hero (often using a cape/stealing Superman's).

Comic title: DC Comics Presents Superman #52
Written by Paul Kupperberg
Art by Keith Giffen & Sal Trapani

From Dec. 1982 
Format: Single issue from an on-going series

Not only is this book the first appearance of Ambush Bug, but it is also the first time the New Doom Patrol made themselves public and finally met Superman.
The story opens with a disturbance in Metropolis.. some uncontrollable energy is running loose on the streets of the city of tomorrow. Supes goes to investigate...
Meanwhile a person calling himself "Ambush Bug" announces himself to the world by simply killing a reporter live on TV!!
Supes clashes with this new Doom Patrol, which the Bug plays one against the other.
Supes finds how Ambush Bug was able to teleport himself around, using the circuitry in his costume and robo-bugs planted all over the city.
Ambush Bug gets arrested in the end.

Overall: Well... It certainly isn't the Bug we know today.
Here, he's only a thug using gimmicks (very hi-tech ones at that) to commit crimes and have fun.
In fact, he's closer to Deadpool, character-wise (which hadn't been created yet back then) than any other portrayal of the Bug we love.
Speaking of love, he even falls in love briefly with a Doom Patroller - which is quite acting far from his current self. (again, that seems a bit more Deadpool-ysh than Ambush Bug)
And -gasp- in the end he even gets unmasked. We're shown a man (Irwin?) who appears big, bald and muscled.
Oh and the fact he killed someone wouldn't stay "in-continuity" for long after that, what with all the DCU rewritten not long after that. But even his next appearances wouldn't mention it much as we're going to see.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Comic title: DC Comics Presents Superman #59
Written by Keith Giffen & Paul Levitz
Art by Keith Giffen & Kurt Schaffenberger

From July 1983 
Format: Single issue from an on-going series

This story starts with Superman flying, as most Superman comics do. Supes is actually traveling through time to go help some future heroes with some Crisis...when the Bug decides to "hijack" him.
Both our heroes end up in the 30th Century.
Superman decides he can't keep Ambush Bug around and so has to leave him under the care of the local heroes. By some coincidence, the Legion aren't available at the time, so the Legion Of Substitute Heroes will have to.
A.B. gets lose and quickly starts wrecking havoc as usual...

Overall: Only his second appearance, and Giffen already gets behind the writing duties for his newly created "villain".
This time around the Bug is less of an actual threat and much more inoffensive. He's more of a loony mischief by now already.
The issue is very fun. Keith Giffen'd love for underrated characters truly shows in these page, he seems to be having a blast with these so-called substitute heroes.
The Bug makes a fool out of this "Legion", Superman, etc.. He even steals for the first time Superman cape (which would turn into a running joke over his next appearances).
A great fun issue, we start seeing a more familiar attitude within the A.B.

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Supergirl #16
Written by Paul Kupperberg
Art by Carmine Infantino & Bob Oksner

From Feb. 1984
Format: Single issue from an on-going series

This one's actually a filler issue from the Supergirl title..but an appearance's an appearance for our Bug!
Ambush Bug arrives in Chicago, Illinois, well decided to change profession. You see, he's already tired of playing super villain, the gig's not that secure afterall. Now he's going to become a super hero, it seemed lik a good idea at the time.
Meanwhile, instruments are being stolen all over the East Coast. Supergirl is on the case, she goes to investigate this strange mystery, also wishing to help out her musician boyfriend.
When A.B. finds her, for some reason he mistakes her for Superman... The Bug thinks she's actually his "good pal" Superman, brainwashed and turned into a girl against his will for some reason - it doesn't get more random than.
The Bug will have to be the one to help out his ol' buddy, ol' pal if he wants Superman to be saved from his situation.
His help ends up causing problems all over the city. Both end up finding the missing instruments and the villains in their skirmish.
Supergal defeats the Bug easily, using the same technique Superman used the first time.

Overall: One of those very rare times the Bug hasn't been written under Ketih Giffen supervision. At least it's from the writer who brought him into the DC Universe in the first place, Paul Kupperberg.
The Bug is starting to become a real pain in the a** for all Kryptonians.
Fun, simple enough story and it's great to see him bug the rest of the DCU, to establish him outside Superman's supporting cast of characters.
The art is pretty lovely too.
Suddenly, near the end of the book, the Bug shows one of his rare facets, a serious moment..almost creepy. What are his real goals, what's his game anyway, is he acting loony on purpose?
...Thankfully this sideplot wouldn't ever be explored anymore, at least.
Seriously, I wouldn't have liked if he ended up being another of these super serious super villains. There's like a bazillion of them already!
The Bug gets captured, send to jail one more time. It was so easy to prevent this classic Ambush Bug from teleporting since he was using circuitry he had to use on his costume...

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score! 

Comic title: Action Comics #560 
Superman story written by Paul Kupperberg
Superman story drawn by Alex Saviuk & Dave Hunt

Ambush Bug story written by Keith Giffen & Rob Fleming
Ambush Bug story drawn by Keith Giffen& Bob Oksner

From Oct. 1984 
Format: Single issue from an on-going series

This is it! Finally, the Bug gets his own story in a back-up story on the Action Comics title.
The first story here's actually a classic Superman story.
A guy escapes prison, wants to have revenge on the system. He starts destroying buildings, the police, the tribunal... Superman tries to stop this new super villain..but for some reason starts getting amnesic at the same time. He's it because of his powers? Being near the guy? Why?? In the end Superman finds the actual true reason to why, beats the bad guy. Happy ending!
In the second story, the Ambush Bug decides to become legit. He opens up an agency "A.Bug Enterprise - Super-heroism is our speciality!". Clark Kent comes by to check on the Bug, to see if he's actually preparing a new scheme. But the Bug easily sees trhough "Superman's silly disguise", make a fool out of Supes once again, get his cape out and plays around with poor middle-mannered reporter Clark Kent.
And also, A.B.'s secret origin is finally revealed!!
In this new origin, he reveals himself as Irwin Schwab actually. A middle-aged man, raised by solid-state television. He decides to become a villain for fun, makes a costume and builds a teleportation device (no less!).

Overall: The Superman main feature is pretty classic, even by Superman comics standards. Nothing much really.
The Ambush Bug back-up is great!
Giffen plays with the comic format, be it in sequences, panels, shots..
There's lots of big close-ups, no gutters between panels so even though it's kinda "suffocating", Ambush Bug seems to be jumping all over the place - classic Giffen!
It still is the "Pre-Crisis" Bug, but we're getting near our current Bug already. He even breaks the 4th wall for the first time (mentioning Keith Giffen behind the weird camera angles).
Ambush Bug becomes crazier and a whole less threatening for the better good.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Action Comics #563 
Ambush Bug story by Keith Giffen, Rob Fleming & Bob Oksner
Superman story by E. Nelson Bridwell, Alex Saviuk, Dennis Jensen
Jimmy Olsen story by Craig Boldman, Howard Bender & Pablo Marcos

From Jan. 1985 
Format: Single issue from an on-going series

It's a "3 Fun-filled stories!" issue as the title let us know!
Ambush Bug's actually the lead feature this time.
The Bug is trying to fix some of his Bug devices that allows him to teleport usually...when it blows up in his face. His suit turns black (which allows him to mock Secret Wars' Spider-man black symbiotic suit on various occasions). Irwin finds out he can now naturally teleport finally! He goes around the city, disguised as a crazy horse since he can't show up his destroyed burnt costume. Oh, and he tells a new origin story to Superman. Now his costume comes from the planet Schwab. It was going to explode, a man decided to send away his clothes to save them, instead of his annoying brat or his despicable wife... The rocketship gets bitten by a cosmic radioactive spider.. Lands on Earth, crashes on a roof... Irwing gets the costume and becomes the Ambush Bug since he had nothing better to do at the time!
The second story sees Mr. Mxyzptlk wanting to enter the media business. He starts annoying people at the Galaxy Building (the Daily Planet's building during the 80s). He puts a curse so no one can say/write things backwards. Superman is able to trick him thanks to a "Bizarro" twist in the end.
And the last tale is called "Jimmy Olsen... Blob!"
It's sort of a retelling of an earlier Silver Age story. Jimmy wants to use his elastic super powers to help someone..but ends up all messed up like a huge monstrous blob. It's a pretty silly story, kind of idiot, but fun nonetheless.

Overall: Keith Giffen's trying to change his character over the years, for the better.
Now he's clearly a comical character.
He's using Ambush Bug to mock (gently) Superman, for fun. Now he's starting using A.B. to have fun with concepts in comics. Like the onomatopoeias which are usually "silent passive" characters in comics. But here, the Bug actually sees and plays with them.
WHOOOOSH "Hey you letterer! is whoooosh" the only sound effect you know??"
Irwin even gets a brand new face under his mask.
The other 2 Superman tales are maybe less funny than intended, probably because the Bug raises our expectations right from the start of the issue. Mxyzptlk ends up looking less loony and threatening than usual thanks to the randomness of Ambush Bug who comes off a lot more off the wall in the previous pages.
Good concept in Mxyzptlk story, but kinda same ol', same ol' to past Mxyzptlk stories. (boy, do I love copy/pasting his name a lot more than actually saying it)
The Jimmy Olsen feature is maybe better. Silly, like I said, but entertaining enough.
Good book overall.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score! 

Comic title: Action Comics #565 
Superman story written by Mort Todd
Superman story drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger
Ambush Bug story written by Keith Giffen & Rob Fleming
Ambush Bug story drawn by Keith Giffen& Bob Oksner

From Mar. 1985 
Format: Single issue from an on-going series

In the "Wizard City Warrior", bad guys find the hidden city of Kandor Wizard City, another piece from Krypton Supes had hidden somewhere on Earth. They're able to activate some gimmicks which sets up on destroying the planet. "The warrior" challenges Superman for the sake of the world. In the end, Supes is able to get the upper hand thanks to his pals Jimmy Olsen and Lana Lang.
The rest of the book is given to Ambush Bug.
I can't call this a "back-up feature" since it actually takes more than half of the issue. The Bug allows Keith Giffen to explore comics and have fun with fake ads, posters, mock-up covers and other parodies in "$ellout".
It's actually more random concepts one after the other to sells us, and the DC editors, on the idea of a whole mini-series Mr. Bug would like to have.
The ravin' lunatic tries to get guest stars to appear in his debut miniseries, with no luck...

Overall: The Bug was being featured in Superman books pretty regularly, heh?
Supes story is pretty corny, even by mid-80s comics standards. (a catapult!!!)
But the artwork was kinda amazing. It even reminded me of classic Golden Age comic book art in some way.
Ambush Bug's pretty in line with his current beloved self.
He mocks Superman Silver Age tales (which would get retconned out a short while after that thanks to the Crisis). He mocks Supergirl and her love for an horse, Batman, Wonder Woman,...
There's plenty o' parodies and disguised tributes in such little pages. (including a lovely Kirby homage/parody)
Very good A' Bug..pages. (I can't call this a "story"...)

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score! 

Comic title: DC Comics Presents Superman #81 
Written by Keith Giffen & Rob Fleming
Art by Keith Giffen & Bob Oksner

From May 1985 
Format: Single issue from an on-going series

The Ambush Bug is back in Superman's team-up on-going.
"Ambush Bug ruins a Superman comic". That's how this issue could have been named!
Ambush Bug is first seen fooling around as usual, now on a golf course.
After discovering a mysterious gem, he decides to offer it to Superman so he'll forgive him for all his previous guest-appearances.
But in truth, the crystal turns out to be actually Red Kryptonite!!
(which tends to have random effects on Superman physiology)
It makes Ambush and Superman swap bodies for some reason!
And all this at the same time the evil Kobra wants to plot his revenge on the Man of Steel!!
Ambush Bug ends up threating Kobra's safety seriously (not that he intended to..) and destroys most of the East Coast of Metropolis by accident.
Meanwhile, Superman is stuck in Ambush Bug's body. He discovers himself an urge to watch awful TV serials, a huge craving for large Pizzas and all the while he's trapped in his own Fortress of Solitude against his will..only to finally be able to use Bug's random teleportation powers..randomly.

Overall: The First "canon" appearance of Ambush Bug! a story Superman purists won't even call canon ever.
The all-new Bug has a more comical physique, we would never get to see him reveal his face anymore.
He's still sort of a villain in a way - he clearly annoys Superman and his a menace to all who surround him. (which would result in Ambush Bug's friendship with the New God Darkseid in future comics)
But a good guy at heart now.
This Bug wouldn't even kill a guy on National TV just to grab attention, no-how!
Scrap that, he actually never killed anyone since:
a) it isn't in continuity anymore
b) it was JUST INK! Nobody died actually, think about it! :'3
Anyway, fantastic parodic fun issue. Playing with the villain Kobra in a role he's never seen before.
This issue was also used to promote A.B. own mini-series launched around that same time.
A must read!

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Secret Origins #48 
Ambush Bug segment by Keith Giffen, Rob Fleming & Bob Lewis

Stanley and his Monster segment by Phil Foglio & Keith Wilson
Rex the Wonder Dog segment by Gerard Jones, Paris Cullins & Gary Martin
Trigger Twins segment by Gerard William Messner Loebs & Trevor Von Eeden

From April 1990
Format: Single issue from an on-going series

Another Secret Origins book!
This one's overall subject seems to be obscure and underrated characters populating the DCU.
Will Ambush Bug finally get a definitive origin story??
Naah! Instead we get is usual screwing around.
The Bug gets various non-serious origins and since he's refusing and trying to escape them all ends up getting a stereotypical take (cowabunga!), for that time at least.
After that, we get some other origins retold for the Post-Crisis DCU.
Stanley, a kid, befriends a monster who was just expelled from hell from being too nice. Silver Age-ysh.
"The Birth of Rex, the Wonder Dog". A secret super soldier program from the US Army tests its super-serum on a dog...the scientist in charge of the program is killed by a nazi... Now, Rex, the Wonder Dog, will forever be a one of a kind of dog...
Finally, the Tale of the Trigger Twins closes the book. A story taking place in the old west, about two brothers who'll end up using this pseudonym and become reputed bounty hunters.

Overall: Ambush Bug is his typical-self. Random, playing with comic book concepts and such. Making fun of it (and DC's editorial needs for these re-organized clear background stories in their modern day publications).
Keith Giffen at his best!
Stanley and his monster is a bit silly..but nice. Love the cartoony art here!
Rex is a fantastic parody of Marvel's Captain America. Very fun riff on that classic Golden Age comic origin story.
And finally, the western story taking place in the ol' days of the DCU. Pretty good actually.
I even hope Palmiotti & Grey will use the twins in their current Jonah Hex title, would love to see more of these two.
A very good bunch of Secret Origins!

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

And thus, that is all of Ambush Bug non-self titled comic book issues.
'Hope you'll find some you might like or even helped you on these.

The Ambush Bug will be back in nothing special!~

Winners don't use drugs.

That's all for this time's Quickies!

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